Sunday Driver, Yeah

maggie_valley_seedylawyer

Maggie Valley, Western North Carolina

 “She was a day tripper

Sunday driver, yeah”

– The Beatles

All dressed up and no place to go. My brunch plans with friends were canceled. It was a chilly Sunday morning and I could have stayed warm under the covers.

Plan B. Get in the car and drive. Take myself to brunch. I decided to try my buddy’s new diner by the old truck stop. Still unfamiliar with all the country roads, it took me forever to find the place. Once I arrived, people were turned away (including me) due to unforeseen plumbing issues. So my brunch plans were also flushed down the toilet.

Plan C. Keep on truckin’. Next stop? The Swag. Since I was in the neighborhood, why not treat myself to a spectacular view and a killer meal? The sunlight kissed me through my sunroof as I headed up the mountain. I drove by old barns, farmland, and rushing creeks. Amazing.

creek_maggie_valley_nc_seedylawyer

“Old Black Water, keep on rollin'” – The Doobies

From cows, sheep, chicken, and horses, I felt personally greeted by every animal I passed. I even stopped and talked to the animals a la Dr. Dolittle.

NC_donkey_seedylawyer

Getting a kick from the donkey.

 

cow_NC_seedylawyer

B S-ing with the Bull.

After a very steep drive I finally reached the highest peak. With my appetite as grand as the mountain, I was so ready for my long-awaited lunch! The recording at the gate said, “Welcome to The Swag. We are closed until late April.” What?!

Plan D. Around and around she goes. Where she stops, nobody knows. “Time for a drink”, I chuckled, just as I drove by Popcorn Sutton’s home. Coincidence?  I nearly drove off the cliff laughing. Seems as though the sun wasn’t the only thing shinin’!

popcorn_sutton_moonshine_seedylawyer

I’ll shut up my mug if you fill up my jug with some good ole mountain dew- Gr’pa Jones

Cruisin’ down the mountain and into Maggie Valley I stopped by the Stompin’ Ground. This literally was my old stomping ground, where I learned to clog as a little girl. Oh the memories of me in pigtails hoedowning in my handmade patchwork skirt. Hee haw!! Yep, I still use those dance moves.

stompin_ground_maggie_valley_seedylawyer

Oh play me some mountain music like Grandma and Grandpa used to play -Alabama

I kept driving and saw a sign for Cataloochee Ranch. Oh yeah! Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep me from lunch over yonder! Climbing in my car, I arrived at last. How breathtakingly beautiful! But the signed posted on the door read, “Closed until late April.” Huh?! Okay, where is Alan Funt and his Candid Camera?

horse_cataloochee_Maggie_valley_seedylawyer

Cataloochee Lodge, Maggie Valley

Alone, I walked around and gazed out onto the majestic scenery that I had all to myself. Starving, I sat on top of the mountain and ate my emergency granola bar from the bottom of my purse. Funny, it was not exactly the culinary experience I had pictured but somehow it now seemed perfect.

Western_NC_mountains_seedylawyer

“Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, Telling myself it’s not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.” – Led Zep

Plan E. Exit, Stage Left! She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes! Since I skipped Sunday Mass for brunch, (don’t tell my Grandma) I decided to swing by my Church to give thanks for this unforgettable day. I parked and walked up the path. The Church was locked! On a Sunday?! Wow, even He has a sense of humor!

So, I bundled up and sat outside on the Church bench and prayed. The sun caressed my face just as the cold wind tossed my hair. A baby blue sky accented the fluffy clouds floating by like angels. The fragrant early spring flowers were blooming beside me. Now I know why the Church was closed.

sky_Western_NC_seedylawyer

This Sunday I had a spectacular time driving and exploring Western North Carolina. You never know where life will lead you if you just laugh and go with the flow. I would never have traded this day to meet my friends for Eggs Benedict. Even for extra Hollandaise sauce!

Do you ever have days that go better than your original plan?

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Shared with Fiesta Friday, Gluten Free Fridays, Crafty Spices, Natural Family Friday

“I Found My Thrill on Blueberry Hill” [recipe]

HomemadeBlueberryBread_Seedylawyer

Wild Blueberry Bread

My friend and I really ripped up Western North Carolina. We could have written our own tour book!  We hooted and hollered at the County Fair. (See: Hoedown at Haywood County Fair.)  We pretended to be culinary experts at the Asheville Wine and Food Festival and Rhubarb’s Sunday Supper. We hit the local Farmer’s Market and chomped down NC Apples at Barber’s Orchard. Then we hiked (okay, walked slowly) on The Blue Ridge Parkway….

SummerBlueRidgeParkway_seedylawyer

Summer on The Blue Ridge Parkway

And we hiked…..(a little bit slower)

photo_4

Top Of Devil’s Courthouse, Blue Ridge Parkway

Boy, did we hike!! (crawled)

photo_1 (1)

Highest Elevation, Blue Ridge Parkway

Besides burning some calories (thank goodness!!), we hit the jackpot on our winding trails:  Wild Blueberries! 

blueberriesUPick_seedylawyer

Blueberries as far as the eye can see!  Armed with our gallon ziplocks (the allowable limit) we picked…

blueberrypicking_seedylawyer

“I found my thrill on blueberry hill!

And we picked…

PickingBlueberries_Seedylawyer

Boy, did we pick!

BlueRidgeParkwaySummerBlueberries_Seedylawyer

What to do with these gorgeous plump, juicy gems? (Well, with those beautiful berries that didn’t accidentally fall into our mouths!) Something simple, yet special…Aha! Fresh-baked Wild Blueberry Bread!

closeupsliceBlueberryBread_Seedylawyer

This treat is jam-packed with two cups of fresh blueberries. Lemon and Blueberries go great together! I added both vanilla and lemon extracts to really accent the flavor of the blueberries.

My Wild Blueberry Bread is:

One Giant Blueberry Muffin!

BURSTING with blueberries!

Cake-like

Light and fluffy

Very moist

Tart AND sweet

A little lemony

Slices beautifully; not crumbly (or crummy!)

Crunchy crust yet soft inside

Smells amazing!

Berry, berry good!

BlueberryBreadLoaf_seedylawyer

BLUEberry RIDGE PARKWAY BREAD

Adapted from PBS.org

Yield: Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour, plus one teaspoon

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 teaspoons lemon zest

½ cup plain yogurt, regular or lowfat (I used vanilla flavored yogurt)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon lemon extract

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Place blueberries in a small baggie with 1Tablespoon of flour. Toss well to coat berries.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder and salt. Add the blueberries and lemon zest and gently toss to combine being careful not to crush the blueberries.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the yogurt then the dry ingredients, mixing only until incorporated, again, being careful not to crush the blueberries.
  5. Scoop batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until golden brown. (*Check with toothpick if done after one hour. My loaf was perfect after an hour.)
  6. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting gently onto a plate.

“If you want to add an extra sweet addition to this bread, you can make a simple lemon glaze for the top using a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice with enough powdered sugar to make a runny glaze. Pour the glaze over top when the bread comes out of the oven and voila!

Store the bread at room temperature covered with plastic wrap.

***

WildBlueberryBread_Seedylawyer

I’m bringing a fresh-baked loaf to the party at Fiesta Friday #32.

Do you experiment with wild berries? What’s your favorite blueberry recipe?

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer. All rights reserved.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Herbal Lemonade

IMG_1251

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.

– Sam Keen

Summer is definitely here.  My herb garden is growing wild. Lemonade stands are popping up everywhere.

I spotted this classic lemonade stand while driving down a mountain road in Western North Carolina. These smart girls even sold Moon Pies!

Lemonadestand3NC_LisaLesperance

This adorable family was serving cold lemonade on a hot day in South Florida. It reminded me of my childhood in Miami.

Lemonademiami3_Lesperance

Not sure she was so happy when life gave her lemons…

girlbluelemonstand

You can always find frosty lemonade during the summer at the farmer’s market.

LemondadeFarmersMarketStPete2_Lesperance

Fortunately, you don’t need your own lemonade stand to indulge in refreshing lemonade.  Just mix lemons, water and a sweetener of your choice to create your own tasty treat.  For an extra twist, add fragrant herbs from your garden. It’s simple:

Squeeze lemons…

lemonsMix in a handful of fresh garden herbs…

Basil2_LisaLesperance

and…Pucker up!

IMG_1258

Experiment with your favorite herbs and fresh fruit.  Though you many not have a lemonade stand, these mouth-watering recipes are sure to have friends lining up for more.

Here’s my absolute favorite recipe. My friend Birgerbird can relate to the lemonade story, so I invited her to guest post a recipe.  She offers a refreshing, floral and aromatic lemonade enhanced with strawberry and basil that will disappear when you serve it.  The addition of a few strawberries gives it a lovely, almost amber, color. Cheers to Summer!

IMG_1250

IMG_1252

IMG_1255

 

Lemonade with Strawberry and Basil

Serves: about 8

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup raw sugar
1 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
about 20 medium-size basil leaves, torn into rough pieces
3½ cups fresh lemon juice (from about 24 lemons; wait to juice the lemons until after you’ve made the sugar syrup)

PREPARATION:

Make syrup:  Put the sugar in a heatproof bowl. Wash the lemons and rub the sugar over the outsides of them, which releases some of the aromatic oils into the sugar, gently flavoring it.  Scrape off sugar back into bowl to the best of your ability! Then, pour 1 cup of boiling water over the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool.

Combine the strawberries and 15 basil leaves in a blender (use the remaining leaves to garnish in a pitcher) along with ¼ cup of the syrup. Blend for 1 minute.  Pour into a pitcher with all of the lemon juice and stir well.  Add ice cubes.  Alternatively to make a glass of lemonade, stir together approximately 3 Tbs. strawberry mixture with 3 Tbs. lemon juice and 1 or 2 Tbs. sugar syrup. Add ice cubes and top with a bit of cold water (still or sparkling water are both tasty). Stir well. Enjoy!

I am sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #22!

Do you have memories of your childhood lemonade stand?  Have a special summertime lemonade recipe?

Photos courtesy of  Rob Bertolf,  Nina Frazier

Original photos by BirgerBird and Seedy Lawyer. All rights reserved.